09 Aug

Zimbabwe: President Scoffs At Opposition Coalition

President Mugabe not troubled by formation of an opposition "coalition"

Addressing guests at a dinner hosted by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Iran, Nicholas Kitikiti, President Mugabe said he and his party were not troubled by the recent formation of an opposition coalition ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.

“We may have bits and pieces, lots of bits and pieces that call themselves parties, trying to come together. “And I have said in the past, they don’t have any record, any record of their having been fighters anywhere.

“Political zeroes. I have said it does not matter how many zeroes you try to put together, they never constitute a unit; they remain zeroes.

“But the party is there, the two parties (Zanu and Zapu) that can demonstrate by showing the graves, remains of those who perished in the struggle. This is what continues to bring the people to us.”

The President went on: “They (the opposition) will never ever succeed as long as the party continues to be united. And I’m glad that is the situation.”

The opposition coalition dubbed MDC-Alliance brings together fringe political parties like the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, the People’s Democratic Party of Mr Tendai Biti, the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats of Mathias Guchutu, Transform Zimbabwe of one Jacob Ngarivhume, Zim-PF led by former Amabassador to Mozambique Agrippa Mutambara and Zanu Ndonga, all of which have never commanded any significant following.

The coalition has since divided the MDC-T with the divisions manifesting in violent clashes witnessed at the party offices in Bulawayo where party vice president Thokozani Khupe had to be hospitalised after being brutally assaulted by pro-Tsvangirai thugs over her opposition to the coalition.

“That’s why you can read, if you have any newspapers or listen to the radio or watch television, or you get some information from the embassy the huge rallies that we are holding, ” President Mugabe said.

“The youth, our youth, very dynamic, are organising these rallies where we have thousands upon thousands of people coming. Some walking long distances to interface with the President and other leaders.

“They call them interface meetings. These started with that long march, the Million-Man March and it is the birth of these interface provincial meetings.

“Huge ones; your parents, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, are the ones coming to stamp, to give a stamp, the people’s stamp, not to my name, but to the struggle I and others lead. And I thank them for it.”

The President was in Iran for the second-term inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani.

He was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba among other senior Government officials.

Source from allAfrica

09 Aug

Kenya election 2017: Raila Odinga says election systems hacked

Hacked

Kenya opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga has said the electoral commission’s IT system has been hacked to manipulate the election results.

He rejected early results from Tuesday’s vote indicating a strong lead for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The electoral commission has not yet responded to Mr Odinga’s accusation, but politicians have called for calm.

Many fear a repeat of the violence after a disputed election 10 years ago.

More than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced following the 2007 vote.

Mr Odinga said that the hackers gained access to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) computer system by using the identity of the commission’s IT manager, Chris Msando, who was killed last month.

The opposition leader had earlier told journalists the results coming in were “fake”, because the authorities had failed to present documents verifying the results.

Electoral officials say that with 91% of results in, Mr Kenyatta is leading with about 54.5%, to Mr Odinga’s 44.6%.

These results mean Mr Kenyatta appears to be heading for a first-round victory. In order to avoid a run-off, a candidate needs 50% plus one of the votes cast and at least a 25% share of the vote in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

There were eight candidates in all, but apart from Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga none polled more than 0.3% of the vote.

What is Mr Odinga’s complaint about the vote?

The opposition has described the results being released online as a “fraud” because they were not accompanied by original result forms 34A and 34B from the polling stations.

“They are fictitious, they are fake,” said Mr Odinga.

He said that the results were “the work of a computer” and did not reflect the will of voters.

“We have our projections from our agents which show we are ahead by far,” he added.

Opposition officials have said that, despite assurances from the electoral commission, they still have not received the result forms.

What does the electoral commission say?

The electoral commission has been urging people to wait calmly for the full results of Tuesday’s vote.

“During this critical phase, we urge all Kenyans to exercise restraint as we await official results from the polling stations and indeed as they start trickling in,” the commission said.

However, it admitted that a lack of mobile data coverage had delayed the delivery of the supporting documents, forms 34A and 34B.
There had been reports on election day of the failure of some voter-identification equipment. Also, one in four polling stations were apparently without mobile phone coverage, meaning that officials were asked to drive to the nearest town to send results.
The presidential candidates’ agents would have “special access” to the forms, though, the electoral commission said.
The Daily Nation newspaper quoted commission head Ezra Chiloba as saying only results supported by the forms had been published.
How did the voting go?
Voting passed off largely peacefully and some polling stations remained open after the scheduled 17:00 (14:00 GMT) closing time.
People started queuing early to ensure they could cast their vote. Long queues could be seen, and video footage at one polling station showed people injured after an apparent stampede.

There were reports that one man had been killed in clashes in the Kilifi area.

But there was one heartening moment when a woman gave birth to a baby girl as she queued in West Pokot to cast her ballot. New mother Pauline Chemanang called the circumstances of the birth a “blessing” and called her baby Kura, Swahili for “ballot”, according to local radio.

However, in the run-up to election day, a top election official was murdered, there were claims of vote-rigging and hate speech flyers and rhetorical text messages began circulating.

Some nervous Kenyans stockpiled food and water, while police prepared emergency first aid kits in the event of violence.

What is at stake?

Mr Kenyatta is hoping for a second term in office.

Voting for the national and local assemblies has also been taking place

Mr Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, beat him in the last election in 2013, but their rivalry is generations old – their fathers were political opponents in the 1960s.

Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago. The case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.

  • Six separate ballot papers: For president, national assembly, female representatives, governors, senate and county assemblies
  • 47 parliamentary seats and 16 senate seats reserved for women
  • Eight presidential candidates: President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are favourites
  • Kenyatta beat Odinga in 2013 – their fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s
  • A candidate needs 50% plus one vote for first-round victory
  • More than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections
  • More than 45% of registered voters under 35
  • Some 180,000 security officers on duty nationwide in case of trouble

Read full article on BBC

08 Aug

Kenya: Polls Open in Centers Countrywide Amid Tight Security

Nairobi — Polls have opened in Kenya's high stakes election

Nairobi — Polls have opened in Kenya’s high stakes election, with voters having started streaming to polling stations as early as 1am.

Voting has already started in most parts of the country.

Anxious voters camped throughout the night at various polling stations ready to cast the vote on Tuesday morning, signaling a likely high voter turnout in the Kenya vote.

At the Moi Avenue Primary School Polling Station in Nairobi’s Starehe Constituency, hundreds of voters started lining up at 11pm and more were streaming in at 1am, five hours ahead of 6am when polls were set to open.

“I thought I am the only one coming early… I am surprised at the number of people here and the more that are coming,” Peter Mureithi said, having joined the queue shortly before midnight Monday.

The polling station is the largest in the city centre, and the queue was already past the Globe Cinema Interchange a few meters from Moi Avenue.

Most of the voters who chose to spend the night at the poll station were hawkers from around the city who wanted to vote early and carry on with their work.

“It was easier for us to stay here than go home then come back here early in the morning. We have our jobs to do and our families to feed but we also want to exercise our constitutional right to vote for the leaders we want,” one of the voters who identified herself as Muthoni said.

Another voter added: “There is no sleeping today. If we have to, we will do so while sitting here. We want to be among the first ones to vote and by 9am all of us should be back to work. Above all, we want to vote peacefully.”

The call for peace resonated with everyone we spoke to with all calling for restraint and people to accept the results.

“Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results. There is no need to fight because of elections. We are all Kenyans irrespective of tribe. If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?” Calvin Otieno, another voter said after joining the queue at midnight.

Another one added: “These politicians always say we are the stupid ones because for them at the end of the day they will be friends, call each other brother and son while we are fighting with each other for them. We must be friends too.”

There was heavy security at the polling station, with more than 10 police officers patrolling the area.

Starehe is one of the constituencies in the city which will witness a bare knuckle fight for the new Member of Parliament with the battle pitting youngsters; businessman Steve Mbogo, musician Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua and activist Boniface Mwangi.

via allAfrica

07 Aug

Mashaba’s Joburg is not ‘bankrupt’, says finance MMC

Parks Tau alleged that South African government is bankrupt

The ANC’s Parks Tau has alleged that Herman Mashaba’s government is bankrupt after he left it with a ‘positive balance sheet of ‘R1.7bn’.

The City of Johannesburg has denied allegations made by the African National Congress in Johannesburg on Sunday about the city’s financial position.

“The comments are nothing more than the ANC’s attempt at reviving [former mayor] Parks Tau’s political career from the ashes,” mayoral committee member for finance Rabelani Dagada said.

“The truth of the matter is that under ANC administration, the city and its finances were run in an environment of chaos and disorder, all of which allowed a culture of corruption to fester and flourish. Since coming into office, we have learnt that almost 19 percent of the city’s R55 billion budget has, over years, been lost to corruption,” he said.

“The management of the city’s finances is a matter of public interest. We welcome scrutiny into the city’s finances by our residents. However, I would caution that the city’s finances should never be used as an instrument for petty politics.

“Stakeholders such as the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), National Treasury, and Investors City keep us honest and constantly advise us on how finances can improve. The financial performance for the financial year (FY) 2016/17 is yet to be audited by the AGSA and any proclamation on the figures undermines the role of the Auditor-General South Africa,” Dagada said.

Among other things, in terms of revenue collection for 2016/17, the unaudited numbers showed a significant reduction in the variance between the budgeted and actual revenue collected compared to 2015/16. There was an improvement from R3.4 billion negative variance in 2015/16 to R2.7 billion negative variance for 2016/17. In March and June 2017, revenue collected exceeded R3 billion, the first time ever revenue collection exceeded R3 billion for two months.

Total revenue collection in 2015/16 was R34.9 billion versus an improved collection of R35.2 billion in 2016/17. “We also asses our revenue collection performance through the financial ratios, and our forecasted debt to revenue ratio is 40.7 percent, well within our target. Our main liquidity ration measure, cost coverage ratio is also projected to be a healthy 36 days, well above National Treasury benchmark,” he said.

The city’s 2017/18 budget was assessed by National Treasury and found to be funded.

“There are many customers in the city that we believe were not being billed for the three metered services – electricity, water, and sewerage. The plans that we proclaimed during the state of the city address and the budget speech of collecting more revenue are already being implemented.”

The so-called “billing crisis” was never reduced but rather “swept under the carpet” during the previous ANC administration by way of reduced credit management, which reduced customer complaints; increasing customer indebtedness by the “pay for what you are not disputing model”; and “fake actual readings”, which were called “calculated actuals”.

In terms of the city’s liquidity status, as at June 2017, the closing cash balance was between R3 billion and R4 billion. It should also be noted that liquidity had been deteriorating year-on-year due to the billing problems that went unresolved under the watch of the previous administration. The city’s current cash balances were around R4 billion.

The city paid all its short-term financial obligations as they fell due. The city continued to pay salaries and its creditors. Creditors were paid in compliance with the National Treasury requirement that suppliers should be paid within 30 days of receiving a valid tax invoice.

As for the short-term borrowing in the 2017/18 financial year the city could confirm that council had approved raising up to R3 billion from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to manage potential cash flow mismatches that might arise in the future.

“The city’s finances are in a sound position. The DA-led administration has made tremendous progress since taking office to ensure that we run a clean administration following acceptable governance practices. The financial state of affairs will be revealed by the AGSA when he issues his report in November 2017.

“We have increased access to basic services, including electricity, to unprecedented levels, including through our new micro-grids in informal settlements. We have increased investment in roads and traffic signals which are the arteries of life and commerce in this great city, upgrading our key bridges and highways as we go.

“It’s totally inaccurate for the ANC Joburg to purport that under mayor [Herman] Mashaba’s tenure the City of Johannesburg’s financial stability has been in a state of perpetual decline or precarious. This is a characterisation of their time in government. Should the ANC continue on their present path, they will not only expose themselves as failed government but a failed opposition party as well,” Dagada said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

07 Aug

Paul Kagame re-elected president with 99% of vote in Rwanda election

Paul Kagame re-elected president in Rwanda election

Former guerrilla leader praised for bringing stability and growth after genocide but criticised as authoritarian wins third term.

Paul Kagame, the controversial president of Rwanda, has won a landslide victory in the small African state’s election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.

The result will surprise no one, inside or outside Rwanda.

Kagame, 59, has won international praise for the stability and economic development he has brought Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people were killed, but he has also been accused of running an authoritarian, one-party state. Some have dismissed the polls as a sham.

Friday’s election came after a constitutional amendment, which ended a two-term limit for presidents and theoretically permits Kagame to remain in power until 2034. The amendment was approved by 98% of voters.

In the final tally for Friday’s election, he won almost 99% of votes cast, said Kalisa Mbanda, chairman of the National Electoral Commission.

The board expects turnout in the east African country of 12 million people to have topped 90% in an election that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

Habineza, a former journalist who leads the Green Democratic party, said last week the authorities in Rwanda were “starting to understand the opposition can play a role in running the country”.

“We are still treated as if we are enemies … but so far in this election no one in our party has been killed or imprisoned or harassed and that means at least some progress,” he said before a rally in the small southern town of Rango.

The election board disqualified another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.

After results were announced, Kagame said he would work to sustain economic growth. Infant mortality and poverty levels have dropped rapidly in Rwanda in recent decades, while literacy rates and other indicators of development have soared. New roads have been built and an ambitious programme of investment launched. Kigali is perhaps the cleanest and most orderly African capital city.

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are [economically] developing,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Kagame led rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide and went on to wage further wars in the region. He won the last election in 2010 with 93% of the vote, and said during this campaign that he again expected an outright victory.

Despite some discontent over joblessness and other issues, the president appears authentically popular in Rwanda, which has had some of the fastest economic growth rates in Africa and has become known for its stability in a deeply troubled region.

At a succession of rallies attended by large numbers of supporters from the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party, Kagame promised more schools, roads and clinics. Supporters at a rally in Burera in the north of the landlocked country said last week that they could not imagine another leader.

Reuters reported that voters celebrated the election result into the early hours of Saturday.

“Last night was fantastic. People kept coming in until my bar had more than 200 people. I usually get 100 on normal days. They were all celebrating and I left at 2am, but they were still dancing and more were coming,” said John Habimana, owner of the popular Roasty Bar in Kigali.

Other residents were less happy, the agency said. “To me I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said one man in the capital who asked not to be named.

via The Guardian

12 May

Nigeria Parliament Approves 21% Budget Hike to Boost Economy

Nigeria’s lawmakers approved to boost spending by 21 percent this year’s budget to help the West African economy recover from its worst slump in 25 years.

The Senate, led by its President Bukola Saraki, agreed on Thursday in the capital, Abuja, to increase spending this year to 7.4 trillion naira ($23 billion). That compares to a budget of 7.3 trillion naira that President Muhammadu Buhari proposed on Dec. 14. The House of Representatives, the National Assembly’s lower chamber, approved it earlier Thursday.

Nigeria’s economy, which vies with South Africa’s to be the largest on the continent, shrunk by 1.5 percent last year, the first contraction since 1991, after revenue from oil, its biggest export, fell by almost half. About 30 percent of the budget will be spent on roads, rail, ports and power to help stimulate business activity.

The government should implement the budget quickly “to boost the economy and take it out of recession,” Michael Famoroti, an economist at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management, said by phone. Spending on capital projects to promote exports and in the oil-producing Niger delta region, is expected in the second half of the year, he said.

The spending plans assume daily production of 2.2 million barrels of crude oil sold at $42.5 per barrel, and an exchange rate of 305 naira per dollar, according to budget documents. This was unchanged from Buhari’s proposal, the chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Appropriations, Danjuma Goje, told lawmakers.

The government’s oil-production target may be reached in the second half of the year as “oil revenue is expected to be strong,” according to Famoroti. If non-oil revenue doesn’t increase, Nigeria might face “another under-performance of the budget.”

Foreign-currency shortages in the country forced the central bank to introduce multiple exchange rates, with the main rate at 315 naira per dollar, more than 20 percent cheaper than the street price.

The two chambers of Parliament debate and approve spending plans separately before harmonizing their proposals into a single document sent to the president to sign into law.

 

Read more: Nigeria Parliament Approves 21% Budget Hike to Boost Economy

10 May

Nigeria Seeks $5.2 Billion From World Bank for Electricity

Nigeria is seeking $5.2 billion from the World Bank to expand electricity generation and help the economy recover from its first contraction in 25 years.

The bank’s private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, may invest about $1.3 billion in power projects and electricity distribution companies. Its political-risk insurer, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, could provide equity and debt of $1.4 billion for gas and solar power programs, according to Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola.

That’s in addition to loans of $2.5 billion Nigeria is seeking from the lender to help improve the distribution of power, expand transmission-capacity and increase access to electricity in rural areas, Fashola, 53, said.

“Disbursements with the World Bank are being worked out to start from around June, July this year,” Fashola said in an interview from his office in the capital, Abuja on May 4. Nigeria is asking the lender to bring forward the timetables “because next year we want to see results,” he said.

Africa’s most populous nation produces about 4,000 megawatts of power compared with a average peak generation of about 35,000 megawatts in South Africa, with a population that’s less than a third of the size of Nigeria’s 180 million people. The lack of supply increases production costs for many businesses forced to provide their own electricity, mostly using diesel-run generators. The Nigerian economy shrank 1.5 percent last year, the first full-year contraction since 1991 because of a fall in oil prices and production and dollar shortages. Gross domestic product could expand 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Fashola, who presided over several infrastructure projects in Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos as its governor, was appointed last year by Buhari to boost the power industry, one of the biggest impediments to growth in the country.

Read More: Nigeria Seeks $5.2 Billion From World Bank for Electricity

08 May

Morocco’s Attijariwafa Plans Africa Expansions This Year

Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco’s biggest lender, is planning to complete expansions in East and West Africa this year as it focuses on consolidating its new acquisitions to spur growth.

The Casablanca-based bank aims to finalize a deal to buy Rwanda’s Cie Generale de Banque, known as Cogebanque, start commercial banking operations in Chad and apply for a banking license in Ghana in 2017, General Manager Ismail Douiri said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday.

The lender has halted its plans to enter Nigeria and Algeria as it prioritizes the consolidation of its purchase of 100 percent of Barclays Plc’s Egypt, which was completed this month as part of plans to boost growth. Attijariwafa started its first wave of acquisitions in 2005 as it was faced with fewer opportunities to expand in Morocco. It now operates in 26 countries including Tunisia, Niger, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as France, Germany and Italy.

The bank forecasts loans and deposits will increase 5 percent to 7 percent and profits to expand between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2017. It plans to sell as much as 1.5 billion Moroccan dirhams ($152 million) of perpetual bonds to meet Basel 3 requirements.

Read more: Morocco’s Attijariwafa Plans Africa Expansions This Year

05 May

Top & bottom 10 investment destinations in Africa, according to Quantum Global

Top 10 and Bottom 10 investment destination in Africa. Credit: Quantum Global

Botswana is the most attractive economy for investments flowing into the African continent, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2016 by Quantum Global’s independent research arm, Quantum Global Research Lab.According to the Index, Botswana, scores highly based on a range of factors that include improved credit rating, current account ratio, import cover and ease of doing business.

Commenting on the Index, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Head of Quantum Global Research Lab stated: “Despite considerable external challenges and the fall in oil prices, many of the African nations are demonstrating an increased willingness to achieve sustainable growth by diversifying their economies and introducing favorable policies to attract inward investments. Botswana is a case in example – its strategic location, skilled workforce and a politically stable environment have attracted the attention of international investors leading to a significant influx of FDI.”

Read more: Botswana Most Attractive Investment Destination in Africa

04 May

South Africa’s rand weakens as U.S. Fed leaves door open for June rate hike

JOHANNESBURG May 4 (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar in early trade on Thursday as the greenback rallied on the back of the hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve statement, pushing emerging market currencies lower.

* At 0707 GMT, the rand traded at 13.5250 per dollar, 0.63 percent weaker from its New York close on Wednesday.

* The Fed kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday while emphasising the strength of the labour market – a sign it was still on track for two more rate rises this year.

* With the Fed keeping rates unchanged, the rand needed fresh catalysts to strengthen it, analysts said.

* “It really has been a really slow week as the rand treads water waiting. It needs something to jump start it back into life,” said Standard Bank trader Warrick Butler in a note.

* The rand also continued to lose ground against many of its trading partners as investors moved their money offshore in search for higher yields and political stability.

* “(The rand) looks set to weaken further today even as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba emphasized his predecessor’s policies yesterday. This shows that markets are looking for action rather than lip service as far as local economic policy is concerned,” said Rand Bank Merchant economist Isaah Mhlanga.

* Gigaba said on Wednesday South Africa can regain its investment-grade rating without compromising on promises to transform the economy for the benefit of its black majority.

* The yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 rose 4.5 basis points to 8.715 percent.

* The All-share index inched up 0.03 percent to 53,602 points, while the Blue-Chip Top-40 index rose 0.15 percent to 46,988 at 0706 GMT. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Toby Chopra)